A revolution often starts with a few small, seemingly insignificant acts. Today, 22 May 2019, is the 9th Bitcoin Pizza Day, the event forever enshrined in crypto folklore.
On this day, crypto factions set aside their differences to break bread (well, pizza) and honor a Bitcoin pioneer who paid 10,000 BTC to buy 2 Papa John’s pizzas in 2010.
Now worth $80 million (from the initial $40), the Bitcoin pizza transaction played a crucial role to prove the real-world use of crypto and usher in the era of digital currencies.
It’s the crypto community’s Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa all rolled into one. And this year, even mainstream media are jumping on board, with 60 Minutes’ famous journalist Anderson Cooper doing an interview with the “Bitcoin Pizza Guy” (read on).
What is Bitcoin Pizza Day?
Bitcoin Pizza Day is the annual celebration of the first known Bitcoin transaction for a physical product. On 22 May 2010, a young US engineer and crypto enthusiast, Laszlo Hanyecz, paid a fellow user a staggering 10,000 BTC for 2 Papa John pizzas.
How did the Bitcoin pizza deal happen?
Hanyecz, now forever known as “Bitcoin Pizza Guy”, made a legendary post on 18 May 2010 on crypto website forum BitcoinTalk in which he stated he wanted to exchange 10,000 BTC for 2 pizzas. A lucky fellow crypto enthusiast, Jeremy Sturdivant ( aka jercos), took him up on his offer and they quickly fleshed out a deal.
The original Bitcoin Pizza post
On 18 May 2010 Laszlo posted:
“ I’ll pay 10,000 bitcoins for a couple of pizzas.. like maybe 2 large ones so I have some left over for the next day. I like having leftover pizza to nibble on later. You can make the pizza yourself and bring it to my house or order it for me from a delivery place, but what I’m aiming for is getting food delivered in exchange for bitcoins where I don’t have to order or prepare it myself, kind of like ordering a ‘breakfast platter’ at a hotel or something, they just bring you something to eat and you’re happy!
I like things like onions, peppers, sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, pepperoni, etc.. just standard stuff no weird fish topping or anything like that. I also like regular cheese pizzas which may be cheaper to prepare or otherwise acquire. If you’re interested please let me know and we can work out a deal.
Then on 22 May 2010, Laszlo left the short post that would change Bitcoin history:
It’s not quite Satoshi whitepaper stuff, but try topping that.
The post is still online today, but the last post was in 2016. Here are a few choice replies through the years:
Why is Bitcoin Pizza Day important?
The Bitcoin Pizza transaction proved that Bitcoin had a real-world use case and could be used instead of fiat currency (government-issued money like the US dollar) to purchase physical products.
It has since grown more important each year it makes us look back and then forward to understand Bitcoin’s journey. It’s a reminder of the adversity Bitcoin has faced down and the incredible once-in-a-generation investment opportunity it presents when looking at its historical price trajectory since 2010.
As always, this is not financial advice to invest in cryptocurrencies. Do your own research (DYOR) and decide for yourself.
How much were the Bitcoin Pizzas worth in 2010?
Young Laszlo got a raw deal even back in 2010 when Bitcoin was in its infancy. At the time the 2 pizzas he received cost a mere $25, while 10,000 Bitcoins were valued at about $41.
However, back then, one Bitcoin was worth less than a penny. That’s around $0,006! Let that sink in for a bit.
How much is the Bitcoin pizza deal worth today?
Laszlo Hanyecz paid 10,000 Bitcoin for the 2 Papa John’s pizzas. That amount of BTC is now worth a staggering $78 million at today’s price of roughly $7800/BTC. Yes, that’s 78,000,000 dollars.
As much as he is admired and considered a folk hero by early adopters and newcomers alike, the industry won’t let him forget this!
Bitcoin Pizza Day on Twitter
What happened to the 10,000 Pizza Bitcoins?
In an interview a few years back, recipient Jeremy “Jercos” Sturdivant said that he sold the 10,000 Bitcoin pretty quickly, at around $400 each. A year after he received the BTC, they shot up in value from $41 to $57,000. Within 3 years, they were worth $10 million!
Where were the Bitcoin Pizzas bought?
While most of the crypto community now believe the Bitcoin pizzas were purchased at Papa John’s, “Jercos” remembers it differently. He claimed in an interview that ” I clearly remember Domino’s pizza”, and now regrets not keeping a chat log.
60 Minutes’ Anderson Cooper Interviews Bitcoin Pizza Guy
Laszlo was recently interviewed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who’s currently doing a series on the cryptocurrency industry.
After Cooper asked him how he sleeps knowing that he could have had 800 million dollars (actually it’s $80m, Anderson), the Bitcoin Pizza Guy solemnly replied:
“I think thinking like that is… not really good for me.”
Twitter’s Bitcoin Pizza Tracker
Since 2015, a Twitter account has been posting the daily updated value of the Bitcoin pizza transaction each day.
Laszlo seems to take the current value of his transaction in his stride and tries not to dwell on it too much. He is still active in the community and promotes this new asset class where possible.
Does Bitcoin Pizza Guy still use Bitcoin and/or eat pizza?
Absolutely! In 2018, Laszlo once again used Bitcoin to purchase 2 pizzas to show that the cryptocurrency’s new Lightning Network, which significantly speeds up BTC transactions, really works and can work in practice.
This time however, he got a much better deal. The two pizzas cost him a mere 0.00649 BTC to be exact.
Was it a mistake to pay 10,000 BTC for pizza?
It really depends on how you look at it. The Bitcoin pizza transaction might mean in today’s prices that Laszlo paid over $70million for 2 pizzas, but it was a very influential moment in cryptocurrency history that provided a much-needed impetus and direction for the newborn asset class.
Laszlo got to enjoy both the pizzas and now the knowledge that he played a vital part in the resulting rise in value of Bitcoin. He is viewed as a hero by most crypto investors nowadays, and rightly so.
In any case, it could’ve been worse. Just ask British crypto miner, James Howells, who in 2013 accidentally threw away his old hard drive, and with it, 7500 Bitcoin. He petitioned to dig up his local council’s garbage dump to try and find it, but it was turned down.
How has crypto changed since the Bitcoin Pizza transaction?
In 2010, Bitcoin was still only a year old, but early miners were eager to find a practical example that could prove that it had real-world value. That it was indeed a financial asset that could be used as tender between two or more parties in the real world. Bitcoin Pizza Day provided this evidence.
In 2019, Bitcoin and now thousands of other new cryptocurrencies unfortunately still face many of the same fundamental hurdles it did in 2010.
Bitcoin 2019 vs 2010
Bitcoin’s Big Question is still as relevant today as 9 years ago.
How can digital assets be used effectively, quickly and safely to help the general public gain more control over their financial assets?
There still isn’t a definitive answer. Adding to the question marks now are infighting between new emerging cryptocurrencies and the looming specter of restrictive regulation later this year designed to combat money laundering and terrorism funding.
Much has changed though. Continuous improvements such as Bitcoin’s Lightning Network has drastically increased the transactional speed of the pioneering blockchain and it is now accepted payment at tens of thousands of physical retail stores.
At the same time, Bitcoin has made big strides to rehabilitate its image as a criminal safe haven and continues to grow in stature as the most supported “future of digital money” contender. Most stakeholders believe that any problem that the industry currently faces, will be addressed and dealt with in its time.
So how do we celebrate Bitcoin Pizza Day 2019 and keep the spirit of ’10 alive?
It’s easy. To paraphrase the old “how-do you-eat-an elephant joke:
One bite at a time.